Monday, October 19, 2015

Changing Parishes to Counties

It's the Era of Bad Feeling; the dawn of the Age of Iconoclasm. First it was the Confederate flags and monuments. Right now four New Orleans monuments are in the process of being moved - where unspecified - due to Hizonner, the Mayor! And, like in many other places, the expedient position is to give the complaintants what they want rather than have some costly litigation that can go any odd way.

Anyway, I figure they will go; and I'll miss Creole General Beauregard [Burreygard], as he's pronounced in New Orleans.

But, flushed with this success, like Thomas Crapper, the crabs and common scolds now sought out to destroy additional targets.

One of the unique traits of Louisiana is that it has parishes, not counties. These came from original divisions corresponding to the river parishes back from the days of French and Spanish rule. Suppose some people favoring extreme separation of Church and State sued to change the names of Louisiana's local government areas from the churchy parishes to the righteous, California- and New York-approved counties? Yes, some of them would! Furthermore, some of those parishes carried saints' names! Yes, there were St. Bernard, St. Helena, St. James, St. Charles, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, and Landry Parishes.

The plaintiffs threw in Ascension Parish just to be safe. It sounded vaguely religious, as Louisiana had little need for elevators in that river parish. [The plaintiffs missed Assumption Parish, think it had to do with making assumptions. They made the wrong assumption.]

Well, the locals in those places were, like, really pissed! And they didn't roll over too easy. They pointed out that they changeover would entail prohibitive costs of new signage, new stationary, new paint jobs on deputies' cars, and new decorations the numerous courthouses, 64 in number. But, most of all, they feared that documents with the old name would be null and void. This would negate all marriage licenses and birth certificates before the court-mandated name change! Kind of reaching, but anything is fair when you don't want things done.

Yes, the number of parishes crept up to 64 by the 20th century. Actually, for a while the state had both parishes and counties until the Constitution of 1845 made them all parishes.

Actually, some parishes being called that did not preclude them being havens for wickedness: East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, and Orleans being the most known for dishonesty and vice. And one of the "saint" parishes was not named about anyone cited in hagiography: There is no Saint Tammany! St. Tammany was named after the Delaware Chief Tamanend, who was not Catholic or Episcopalian. He made peace with William Penn and was known for his goodness.* As a matter of fact, Tammany Hall in NYC was named after him.

Well, you likely know how this was going to turn out. The court mandated that parishes would henceforth be changed to counties, and that eight of the nine "saint" parishes would have a court nominated name change. St. Tammany Parish became plain old Tammany County. The other eight became Alpha through Hotel Counties, in all.

The court declared the older documents still valid. After all, an attorney can be a son of a bitch; but don't call him a bastard!

Seeing this nomenclature change befalling the Pelican State, some extreme Tea Party types threatened a suit to change the four Commonwealths**  to mere States, feeling that Communism is implied in that term. Thomas Hobbes rolled over in his grave!

*Even though, during his life, he did not meet General Philip Sheridan's criterion for a good Indian.
**Massachuetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, anf Kentucky


Hell Hound said...

I can actually imagine something like that happening. Never thought about that Commonwealth thing.

Mariette said...

The Confederate monuments should go!

John A Hill said...

I always thought having parishes was kinda cool.

Linda Kay said...

I think the use of "parishes" is kind of cool and certainly sets Louisiana apart from the rest of the nation. Actually, Texas likes to be different as well!

Anemone said...

I like the parish idea too!

Cloudia said...

Having grown up in Penn's green country town, the Quaker City, with pride in the Commonwealth vibe of Penn's Woods (Pennsylvania) and the fair dealing with all - including Original Inhabitants, I want to thank you for your few choice KNOWLEDGEABLE words on William and Tammany. I did not know the chief by name! As an aside: the two Hawaiian warriors on the Seal of Hawaii are also historical personages with names and histories!

Penn was about religious tolerance and pacifism



TexWisGirl said...

i think parishes is neat, too.

Grand Crapaud said...

Nothing wrong with parishes!

Mike said...

St. Louis could be next on the hit list.

Bilbo said...

Saint Landry! Ha, ha, ha, ha!!! When I lived in Shreveport many years ago, I got used to the idea of having parishes rather than counties, but having a "police jury" as the parish governing body was a bit much. And a shout to my fellow Quaker State native, Cloudia!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Shame, parishes sounds cool. Only takes a vocal minority to raise a stink.
And yes, think of the unnecessary cost involved. Dumb!

Gorilla Bananas said...

Did I see a town called Bossier City? Must be where Boss Hogg from 'Dukes of Hazard' came from. Where is Hazard County anyway?

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer said...

Gorilla, there is no Hazard County.